Department of English, College of LAS, University of Illinois


Illinois Department of English Blog

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Welcome to the Department of English blog.



My name is Vicki Mahaffey and I took over as
head of the department on July 1, 2016. I'll be using this site to post updates and information of interest to our faculty, students, and alumni,
along with reflections about our discipline(s) in particular and the humanities in general. As anyone who has ever worked or studied here knows, the Department of English is a vibrant place. If you have something you'd like to see posted here, or if you want to contact me about the content of this blog, drop me an email at vmahaffe@illinois.edu.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Cary Nelson

On Friday, February 20th, at 7:00, our Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory will host a book party in honor of the recent release (by SUNY Press) of Cary Nelson and the Struggle for the University (which has been edited by Michael Rothberg and Peter Garrett) at the IPRH building. For more about the event follow this link to the Unit's website. While you're there, check out all the terrific programming that Lauren M. E. Goodlad (who is serving as interim Director this year) has put together.

Here is the blurb from the book's back cover: "At a time when the humanities are suffering crises of funding and legitimacy, Cary Nelson and the Struggle for the University provides an alternative vision: a clear-eyed, nondogmatic approach to engaged scholarship and educational activism in the interest of the public good. This collection brings together distinguished and rising cultural studies scholars to explore the ways in which Cary Nelson's work unites scholarship and activism, demonstrating the need for radical engagement in order to democratize the academy and the production of knowledge in and about American culture. Neither a Festschrift nor a tribute, the volume looks at the new directions Nelson's work has inspired in research and activism about the history and politics of the academy, cultural studies, modern American poetry, and graduate pedagogy and mentoring. An engaging afterword by Cary Nelson is also included."

As the blurb says, this book is not intended as a festschrift or a tribute. Or, not only as a tribute. It is a tribute to Cary, of course, that his career has been so productive and exemplary as to warrant and repay this kind of attention. And, to be sure, Cary has had (and is having!) a truly extraordinary career as a scholar of American poetry and as a critic and activist concerned with the current state and future of the humanities and the social functions and practices of the modern university. Anyone interested can search for the 24 (!) books he has written, co-authored, or edited, and anyone with an interest in modern American poetry should certainly check out his MAPS website, an Online Journal and Multimedia Companion that he administers as a companion to his highly-regarded Oxford Anthology of Modern American Poetry.

Cary is currently serving as president of the American Association of University Professors (an institution of which I am a member). I was recently reminded, in another context, of the historical importance of the AAUP by having two of its seminal position papers called to my attention as the basic foundations for our current ideas concerning academic freedom and tenure and professional ethics for faculty. This is, in short, important stuff that Cary does.

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